October 30, 2006
How to know it’s “a go” when dating someone who is divorced…
The former marriage has been amicably settled, and at least a full year has passed after the divorce has been final.
He/she takes appropriate responsibility for the breakdown of the former marriage.
He/she wants a healthy spiritual, emotional, and intellectual relationship with a diverse range of people before he/she wants to become sexually involved with any one person.
He/she is involved in his/her children’s lives, and is paying his/her share of child support.
He/she places a very high priority on rearing his/her own children, while at the same time is respectful of your children and your relationship with your children.
He/she can conduct meaningful conversations with the former spouse regarding matters pertaining to the children.
He/she is very respectful of marriage, sex, and the opposite sex, despite the breakdown of a previous marriage.
He/she is not threatened by your occasional encounters with his/her former spouse or persons associated with the former marriage.
He/she has deep regard for the process involved in establishing relationships, and is willing to take time to allow intimacy to properly develop.
October 27, 2006
Let me know...
Some people are so angry, have been angry for so long, they would not want to be without it. It is the only way they know how to relate to the world.
Life does not have to be this way for the angry person. There is always the grace to forgive, and the choice to live in peace with all people everywhere.
Obvious manifestations of anger are outbursts of temper, resentment, and the failure to forgive. These are the easy clues to detect an angry person. More subtle expressions of anger are deep cynicism, estrangement from family and friends, the desire to self-isolate and the loss of faith in loved ones. These are as much signs of anger as is cursing at traffic.
Anger begins as scaffolding surrounding a life, but then, if it is not dealt with, if matters are not settled; if it lingers, anger can become the very structure itself.
Give some angry people a reason to forgive, to give up their anger and they are left with nothing. Anger is the lens through which they see the world, manipulate and control relationships, and without it, they become nothing.
They have sold their peace in exchange for their resentments and have forgotten that it does not have to be this way.
October 24, 2006
People in Healthy Families:
1. Are spontaneous, creative, courageous, and forgiving
2. Are full of humor and laughter
3. Put people ahead of careers
4. Readily face tough issues when they arise
5. Support each other in their endeavors, and want each other to succeed
6. Believe in each other and speak highly of each other
7. Are not overly focused on each other to the point that anyone feels overcrowded
8. Can get time apart, without falling apart
9. Place a high regard on integrity in every way
10. Resist jealousy
11. Resist rescuing each other
12. Are not afraid to give children loving discipline and correction
October 23, 2006
A reader writes:
“I want to tell you that I took your advice and had a meeting with my wife and family about how things are going and it turned out really well. I was nervous, but I told them I had a few important things to say and they all came to a meeting and then we had dinner together and went on our way. I told my sons and my daughters how proud I am of them, and I told my wife I was enjoying our retirement. I apologized for some of my bad days we had in the past and I told them that if it wasn’t or AA I could not have stopped drinking. Thanks for helping me say what I had to say before it is too late. I wish I had done it earlier.?
Congratulations. Being this proactive regarding the most important relationships in your life will serve you, and your family, well. What you have done in finding sobriety, and in affirming your family, takes a lot of courage. Your acts of courage and kindness will have ramifications to be felt long after you have lived your good life.
October 19, 2006
“My son (16) is drinking secretly. I do not want him to have a life dependent on alcohol. I’m single and he is my only child. He drinks with his friends. I’ve been around drinking all my life. What must I do?”
Rod Responds: Pray for courage to be the kind of mother a boy needs at a very crucial time. Meditate upon how much you love him, how deeply you are committed to him. Try to see the world through his eyes by identifying his pressures and conflicts. Don’t say a word more to him about this, or take any further action until you have done your preparation. Having done your inner-preparation, which might take weeks, choose a time when he is most open, and when you are most relaxed, to express your love and your fears. Tell him you fear an addicted life is probably in his future if he doesn’t take better charge of his behavior and become a more responsible captain of his own ship. Offer him access to professional help.
Your “internal” work is important because you will not successfully “strong-arm” him into sobriety, and any such attempts will only serve to distance him from you. Conflict between you will serve neither of you any helpful purpose.
October 17, 2006
“I wish my ex-husband were more involved in our children’s lives. He pays child support without fail and he sends birthday presents and he phones the children but he doesn’t see them very often. Even though he lives in another town it is not that far for him to come and see them but he only comes down about once a month. The children get so excited to see him but I just wish they could see him more often. He is re-married and has two more children.”
It appears that your ex-husband is meeting his financial obligations and is keeping in contact with his children. This is to be applauded. Of course you (and the children) would like his greater involvement with the children, but it appears that this is something over which you have no control.
Try to keep your focus upon being the healthiest mother you can be given the circumstances you find yourself in with your children. It is understandable that you might readily reflect upon what their father is or is not doing, but this will not do you or the children any good.
October 16, 2006
“I am dating a woman who has three children (8, 13, 15) from a marriage that ended long ago. She is determined to be a good friend to her ex-husband. This means the ex-husband is almost always in the picture and it seems like he is still part of the family. I am uncomfortable with this. It feels like they have never really divorced in some ways. Please help.” (Paraphrase of a much longer letter)
The ex-husband seems like part of the family because he is! He is an integral part of his children’s lives and shares significant history with the mother of his children. I’d suggest you try and get used to it. Dating a woman who has three children, and the wisdom and the courage to remain on friendly terms with her former husband, will be a challenge for any man not made of similar steel.
Get out of the middle!
No matter how much love you may develop for each other, as father of the children, her ex is going to be a part of the family equation. Any attempts, on your part, to interfere, or restrict his involvement, will come back to haunt only you. If the day comes that she wants to lessen her contact with him, I’d suggest it be at her initiation, not yours. I am fully aware that this may seem “off the wall” to many, but if you, the new man in the children’s lives, try to construct the dynamics according to your will, it will all begin, over time, to cave in on you. Leave any social re-organizing to the woman whom you are dating and offer her all the support she needs in facing her very tough task.
October 13, 2006
“This morning’s column (12/10/06) is the plaintive cry of another emotionally abused partner. Every time I hear the words ‘I stay because of the children’ I want to be sick. Thank goodness you pointed out that such a relationship is bad for the children. Thank you for asking the question: ‘What is it about you that you are willing to settle for so little?’ I hope this gets the writer of the letter thinking about the quality of his life and all the opportunities to be happy he is missing.”
Children are seldom enduringly fooled
Chime in, please...
by the false front of security offered by warring parents who remain in pathological marriages supposedly for their sake. It is usually hard to leave any marriage, and, while the “for the children” reason sounds noble, it is often a cop out for the partner who is willing to settle for less from life than life offers. Leaving any marriage takes courage, but staying in the marriage, and achieving something worthwhile within the marriage probably requires more courage. This, of course, is only suggested if the marriage is free of violence and other forms of abuse.
October 12, 2006
“My wife is a very difficult person who wants everything her way or she punishes the family in harsh and secretive ways. She gives the impression that she is selfless and giving but in reality it is all about her. I am a very faithful man but I do understand why men have affairs. There is no warmth in our home (from her) so you can only imagine how cold our bedroom is! I stay for my children’s sake and also because I committed to be married “until death us do part.” I can honestly say I have tried to salvage this marriage and all I get back are the vibes of disapproval from an angry woman. She says she doesn’t want to be married but she also doesn’t want to get divorced. (Letter paraphrased)
I hope both of you consider what this marriage is teaching the children about love and life. Stand up to your wife and expose her passive-aggressive ways! You sound like one who is victimized and intimidated by his wife and his circumstances. I challenge you to want much more from your marriage than you are apparently getting. What is it about you that you are willing to settle for so little?